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Minnesota Sen. Al Franken speaks during Betsy DeVos' confirmation hearing before the U.S. Senate Education Committee.

Minnesota Sen. Al Franken speaks during Betsy DeVos’ confirmation hearing before the U.S. Senate Education Committee.

Week in review: Chaos — and new ideas — follow news of threatened school closings

Now that Chalkbeat has officially launched in Detroit, we’re trying out a new newsletter format that offers the week’s biggest developments in education. Senior Correspondent Erin Einhorn and I will trade off newsletters for several weeks to see what works best for you. Please share your thoughts with us at jtopping@chalkbeat.org or eeinhorn@chalkbeat.org.

In other news, we’re about to announce a call for storytellers for an exciting event we are hosting very soon. Stay tuned next week for details!

— Julie Topping, editor, Chalkbeat Detroit



  • A full Senate vote on President Trump’s pick for Education Secretary is set for Monday after the Senate voted to end debate on the DeVos nomination early this morning.
  • Eli Broad, a philanthropist, entrepreneur and Detroit native, who has been one of the nation’s strongest proponents of charter schools, wrote a letter to the Senate urging members to vote against DeVos. He called her “unprepared and unqualified” for the job.
  • A look at the Michigan philanthropist’s personal and professional history help explain what to expect if she is confirmed.
  • Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet asserted that none of his colleagues, “if they could avoid it, would allow their kid to attend” Detroit schools. Bennet is among critics who say that DeVos’ influence is a major reason schools in Detroit face so many challenges.
  • Two Senate Republicans broke ranks and said they would not support Devos’ nomination. That could create a tie that would likely be broken by Vice President Mike Pence. If a third Republican doesn’t support her, and she loses the nomination, it would be a historic event.
  • As he cast his vote against DeVos in a Senate committee, Sen. Al Franken from Minnesota spoke with disdain about vouchers. Franken condemned the Indiana voucher system as “perverse” because it benefitted middle-class children, not the poor students it was meant for.  


  • Parents at an intentionally diverse charter school in Detroit say they prize diverse classrooms. They can live with criticism that the school uses a “sneaky” enrollment process to attract a mix of kids.
  • “This is a system that we created.” How segregated neighborhoods lead to segregated schools.
  • Students build understanding between diverse peers in a suburban district.  
  • Rural high schoolers across the state to meet to “humanize each other.”